TechBlick 05 - Bobek [EN]

So my name is Jos and I’m working on research in circular economy and automotive sector. And I would like to know your point of view. If you accept, I’m going to record our conversation, transcribe it and put the transcription with a pseudonym, not your real name, in a repository of text documents that will be used for the research. If we do this and you change your mind and no longer want to participate, get in touch with us and we will immediately remove your interview from the repository. I’m leaving you an information sheet with contact informations after the interview. So please, if you accept, tell me your name and that you accept.

Yeah, my name is Bobek and I’d be glad to answer questions.

Thank you. Bobek was the name Bobek. Okay, Bobek. So the first question, can you tell me a bit about your educational and professional background and interests?

Yeah, I have a PhD in electrical engineering. My research I did spend most of my career in academia. I was professor at several universities. Last one was Purdue University. I was a faculty there. I also worked in industry for a couple of years. My interest is in sensors for health and wellness applications. Overall, just printed sensors and non printed.

What is your area of expertise?

Sensors generally sensors. That’s broad but printed or non printed. It doesn’t matter. I started with non printed sensors. But then at the end of my career sort of you know towards the end of it I worked more on the printed sensors when I was in academia.

The theme of this conference is the future of Electronics Reshaped. What does the idea of reshaping electronics for the future mean to you?

I guess it can mean different things, of course. What’s right now, it’s after Covid. You know, everybody has realized the issue with supply chain and electronic. Right now, if you look at silicone electronics, the big problem has been the supply chain in the US and in Europe, a lot of the most important chips are coming from Asia and with the not so stable situation in Asia. So there is a lot of interest in sort of, you know, moving the manufacturing back to US and Europe maybe. So that’s the the most urgent need that seems to be out there really, I would say, as far as making sure that. Uh, if something happens in China, you know, we don’t have, you know, there is all the your electronic, all the devices, everything you have at home will stop functioning or, you know, there’s there needs to be. So that I would say is the number one issue is, you know, how to create a stable supply chain for electronics. So that’s that’s the main one. The other, you know, other things are, you know, circular economy, as you mentioned, you know, there’s electronic waste, how to be able to make electronics more sustainability, environmentally friendly, sustainable and reducing the waste. You know, that’s associated I mean, this conference in particular, there’s a lot of you can see there’s a lot of polymers and plastics. It’s you know, electronic is fabricated on which do not good. Correct. You know, then they go to landfills. You know, they kind of the issue with polymer pollution. So things new material that’s more bio friendly, you know, as a source kind of coming from bio based sources or, you know, after you’re done with them, they decompose or you can recycle them into new material.

Uh, what do you think is the relationship between electronics and sustainability?

Again, a lot of, you know, as far as silicone is concerned, you know, I mean, you have electronics are different things. You know, one, you have microelectronics and nanoelectronics, microprocessors or memory chips and things like that. So they’re, you know, the issue more there is to I mean, for example, you know, there is making a microprocessor consumes a lot of water, a lot of energy. Correct. You know, that’s, you know, where does that come, you know, how to make that more sustainable. You know, it requires a lot of clean water. So a lot of again, energy, you know, are they coming from sustainable renewable sources or not. So that’s one thing. The other, of course with the more printed electronics, low cost disposable things, again, with the issue of, you know, recycling and also the material source of the material is very is very cheap. They come from petrochemical plastics. Correct. But they’re not good. Correct. So the cost the issue is actually there are ways to remedy that. But the issue is that you can’t increase the cost. These are a lot of the applications are cost sensitive unfortunately. You know if you want to do that things are becoming more expensive and then it doesn’t commercially it doesn’t make sense then. So that’s the big issue. That’s the big problem. To be able to reconcile the the cost and price issue with the, you know, sustainability so you can make things sustainable, but they become more expensive. Are you willing to pay like three times more for your TV to become more environmentally friendly? Some people do, but a lot of people don’t.

Can you define a circular economy in your own words?

I guess this is actually it’s one of the things I recently learned about the circular economy, but it does seem that it’s been around for a couple of years now at least. But it’s again, being able to use renewable energy sources to create materials that are biodegradable or reusable, that you can recycle or biodegrade or get them into. So there is no, you know, input energy come from solar or wind and then go into a process that at the end of the day, you also produce products. That’s going to be at the end of their life cycle. We’d be able to be recycled and reused again.

Do you participate in circular economy in any aspect of your life?

I try to recycle stuff, but that’s all I do. I’m not doing a good job on that also. So I think that’s that’s interesting. And one of the areas is just generally recycling. People would like to do that. But it’s it’s not easy to recycle actually in a lot of places I don’t know in Europe, but in the US it’s not easy to recycle some things. So it’s if you can make things easier for people who want to recycle things, that’s good. That’s good to do. I’d say.

Uh, do you think electronics can play a role in making the car industry more sustainable?

I don’t know much about the car industry, so I mean, I don’t know what are some of the bottlenecks and what are some of the issues there. So I can’t really answer that that well, but I’m sure it can at some point. So I’m not I’m not knowledgeable about, you know, what are some of the you know. Of course, the cars are going to become I mean, electric vehicles are going to become dominant, correct. Next ten, 15, 20 years probably. So that’s probably where the action is. You know, how you can make you know, they require a lot of resources. You know, elements material, lithium, cobalt and these things you know the reducing that. Yes. You know, can you make things I think the action maybe is in the battery really. You know, to make make batteries more bio bio more environmentally friendly. And that has to do more with the the way they make the batteries. So the new elements and chemistry.

And what is about circular economy? Can the car industry promote circular economy more.

I think because again, my basic knowledge is again with electric vehicles that’s coming. You know, how to in particular, batteries consume a lot of, you know. Metals or material, you know, elements that are not easy to extract. Really. So how to recycle, let’s say recycling batteries, how to recycle them, how do you get them. So that seems to be the big, big topic right now. I’m not expert in that.

do you think that the car industry is already doing things like that.

I’m not sure. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I doubt it because they are still trying to figure out how to make the electric vehicles, I think. So I think they’re thinking, I’m sure about it. But I mean, I don’t know about car industry.